Madeline Stamm

‘Turning Fear Into Fun’

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Joe Gebbia’s TED talk on how he developed Airbnb was intriguing and unique. He turned a small idea into a successful business from talking to a stranger at the bar and letting him stay the night at his house to a full service where people can stay in each other’s homes.

Gebbia said something along the lines of, “turning fear into fun is one of the most amazing things about creativity.”

I thought it was interesting how during his TED talk, Gebbia made people hand their unlocked phones to the person next to them as a trust exercise. He compared that to letting strangers stay in your home. “It’s personal… and that’s what allows Airbnb to exist,” said Gebbia.

Personally, I would not feel comfortable handing a stranger my unlocked iPhone and I’m sure many other people wouldn’t either. However, I am comfortable renting out an Airbnb and staying in someone else’s home. This is definitely ironic because I stayed in an Airbnb last week, but I have a hard time giving my friend my phone!

Gebbia used the idea of the MVP from A Minimum Viable Product Is Not a Product, It’s a Process By Yevgeniy (Jim) Brikman and tested his product before fully putting it out there. He housed three strangers in his home before turning Airbnb into a startup to test and see if the idea of charging people to stay in others’ intimate homes would be successful.


The idea of the MVP (Minimum Viable Product) was also mentioned in The Lean Startup Methodology and refers to it as the “build-measure-learn feedback loop” and how in order to develop your MVP, you need to solve a problem at hand. As we learned in class, you need a problem, solution and product to have a successful startup.

I felt like Airbnb and all the amazing things Joe Gebbia has done and how he has impacted traveling was criticized in the article, For Nextdoor, Eliminatin Racism Is No Quick Fix. Here’s a bit from the article that I would like to discuss:

“In the last couple years, as the largest social networking sites have come of age, many of them have also become platforms for racial bias. Most social web services — like Airbnb or Facebook or Twitter — were launched quickly. Their founding teams—consisting mostly of well-off men (and the occasional woman) from prestigious universities—were not diverse. Those teams hired designers and engineers who looked like them to launch and grow the sites.”

I do not agree with this because I think it’s unfair that the founders of Airbnb, Facebook and Twitter are being attacked for being a certain race or socioeconomic status and because they were smart enough to attend “prestigious” universities.

Not to mention, I don’t think it’s accurate to say that the founder of Airbnb was “well-off” because, as we just heard in his TED talk, he was broke and let strangers stay in his house for rent money. Also, I’m not sure if these founders purposely “hired designers and engineers who looked like them,” I think those people just happened to be their friends, such as how Joe Gebbia said he happened to meet a guy in the bar and that’s who he started Airbnb with.

This article also stated, “With many of these services, minorities of all types were targeted or excluded.” I also don’t think this statement is accurate at all because I don’t see how you can exclude certain types of people when social media is open to anyone and everyone with Internet access.

I also didn’t understand how this article was comparing social media to racial profiling/reporting a crime and describing a person’s appearance/features.

6 thoughts on “‘Turning Fear Into Fun’

  1. Hi Madeline! I really liked what you had to say in this blog post and agree with a lot of your points. I think that the quote you referenced, “turning fear into fun is one of the most amazing things about creativity” was very interesting because like handing your phone to a stranger, stepping out of your comfort zone is scary but it can also lead to amazing new things. Airbnb has used several techniques within their company to make the experience less scary and instead more exciting and innovative.


  2. The build-measure-learn system is the easiest way to break down how to implement an MVP. Good job on that, Madeline. An MVP doesn’t have to be extravagant. In fact, the very nature of “Minimum” means that it shouldn’t be a lot to handle. But this can be a spot where businesses can falter as they build themselves up because they spend too many or too little resources on this stage to get a solid measure of where they stand. Good points on the reported lack of diversity in the Facebook, Twitter, AirBnB founders. It might not be fair to criticize them, but their background is a valid point in understanding their systems.


  3. I really loved this talk as well! It really showed how tough getting an idea off the ground can be. I loved hearing how he was able to create AirBnB from such an unplanned encounter. Developing an MVP is not the easiest job but it is possible and you made some very interesting points about this. Great job!


  4. Hello, I really enjoyed your post! I like how you pointed out that the founder of Airbnb wan’t “well-off” because he let strangers stay in his home for rent money because it makes you think, how far would on go for their idea. Obviously for him, it worked but when creating a product or business and furthering your idea, executing it, sometimes it’ll take money in order to make it or you will have to put yourself out there and do things you aren’t comfortable doing but always believe that it can work out in the end. Great post!


  5. I really enjoyed this blog post. For me, this post just reiterated how hard it can be to create a startup. Especially when it comes to the whole situation of money. You have to be smart and work hard and hopefully in the end, your hard work will pay off!


  6. Madeline I really enjoyed this blog. The MVP of the Air B&B and how it has since developed is really remarkable and also how you tied in the neighbor’s problem with racism. Awesome article.


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